With the boom of CBD products flowing into the wellness space, you might have come across the cannabinoid CBDa.
CBDa and other “minor” cannabinoids have begun to garner attention, although more research is needed before we fully understand their properties.
This article will explore what CBDa is, how CBDa works, and how using CBDa as part of a wellness routine can potentially benefit you.
CBDa (an abbreviation of “cannabidiolic acid”), like CBD, is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis plants. It is the raw, acid form of CBD, meaning that CBDa is transformed into CBD by heat - a process called decarboxylation.
CBDa is a type of phytocannabinoid, a class of cannabinoids, and it is the main phytocannabinoid present in hemp plants grown for their fiber or oil.
CBDa was first isolated from other cannabis compounds in 1955, but it has consistently been undervalued in comparison to CBD due to its unstable nature. Exposure to even low levels of heat and light can, over time, turn CBDa into CBD if nothing is done to prevent this process.
CBDa works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a complex system in the human body that plays a role in regulating various physiological functions, including pain, mood, sleep, and appetite. Every person has a unique ECS and, as a result, individual responses to different cannabinoids and cannabis products can vary.
The ECS is made up of two main receptors, CB1 and CB2, and the endocannabinoids, which are compounds produced by the body that interact with these receptors, and the enzymes that break down these endocannabinoids. CBDa may interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors to produce its effects, but more research is needed.
Current research has revealed a wide range of potential therapeutic benefits that can result from using CBDa but there are some significant limitations. For example, much of the research on CBDa has been conducted in animal models or in vitro (i.e., in a test tube or cell culture), and there is a need for more human clinical trials to validate the initial findings from currently available studies.
With that in mind, the research suggests that CBDa may have some wellness benefits.
In a study conducted in 2018, a team of researchers experimented with using CBDa to relieve pain and swelling related to inflammation in rodents. They discovered that, at least in their animal model, CBDa could reduce inflammation and relieve negative effects associated with acute inflammation.
Interestingly, the researchers also found that CBDa was effective at reducing inflammation, and that combining doses of THC and CBDa that would have been ineffective on their own reduced inflammation — suggesting that there might be a “synergistic effect” that results from combining these two cannabinoids.
In a 2021 literature review on the efficacy of CBD and CBDa for treating nausea in patients undergoing cancer treatment, the authors state that “CBD has demonstrated efficacy in reducing nausea and vomiting, with CBDa and CBDa-ME [a stabilized version of CBDa] being more potent.”
Cannabis is frequently used for relieving nausea and, according to the same review, the plant is one of the oldest pharmacological solutions for doing so. This is likely due to the impact of CBDa (among other cannabinoids) on endocannabinoid system receptors in the brain and the gastrointestinal tract.
When it comes to using cannabis to reduce the frequency of seizures, one study has shown that CBDa is about as effective as CBD, and that the efficacy of CBDa in relation to seizures or convulsions is at least partially dependent on how the CBDa was stabilized.
In this particular study, the research team found that Chylobinoid, “a partial spectrum, CBDa-enriched extract that also includes minor amounts of CBD, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa), Δ9-tetrahydro- cannabinol (THC), and magnesium” was more effective than Mg-CBDa, which is a much purer extract of CBDa stabilized with magnesium.
Based on this information, the study’s authors conclude that CBDa might be an important part of the treatment for patients seeking relief from seizures.
CBDa seems to have anti-anxiety effects according to the animal models. Especially when properly stabilized — but understanding the real applications of CBDa for treating anxiety requires a bit more nuance.
One study published in 2017, for example, asserts that the efficacy of CBDa in treating symptoms of anxiety is dependent on “the presence of a specific stressor.” Based on the behavior of the mice placed in a stress-inducing “light-dark emergence test,” the researchers concluded that CBDa is likely to be most effective for combating anxiety when the user is already in a high state of stress (as opposed to being an effective preventative measure against stress).
More recently, a broader study examined the differences between the effectiveness of CBD and CBDa in relation to different stressors. This group concluded that CBD is likely to be more effective for cued fear (i.e., fear learned by association of a cue with a fear-inducing stimulation) while CBDa is more likely to be effective for “trauma-induced generalized anxiety-related behavior.” The authors call for more research on combined administration that can make the most of each cannabinoid’s strengths.
In 2018, a team of researchers focused on the impact of a stabilized (and potentially more potent) CBDa molecule on depression symptoms in rats as produced by “two different genetic animal models of depression.”
Referred to in scientific literature as HU-580, the stabilized CBDa emerged from the study as a potential candidate for future testing as an antidepressant medication. For patients who struggle with some of the common side effects of SSRIs, HU-580 could one day offer an alternative treatment option.
An additional study published in 2020 revealed that “a 10-day chronic CBDa treatment reduced despair-like behavior” in mice 48 hours after those mice were placed under stress. However, due to inconsistencies present in the available literature, the researchers behind this second study state the clear need for more research on CBDa, referring to the cannabinoid as “poorly understood.”
While cannabis is frequently used for relieving the nausea that often results from using chemotherapy to treat cancer, CBDa itself has been shown in multiple studies to potentially be effective for slowing the growth and migration of human breast cancer cells.
For example, a 2014 study found that CBDa “may possess the ability to suppress genes that are positively involved in the metastasis of cancer cells,” meaning that CBDa might prevent or slow the spread of cancer cells from the primary breast cancer tumor to the bones and lungs. According to the authors, about 90% of breast cancer-related deaths are related to metastasis.
Another study published in 2012 revealed that CBDa can inhibit the migration of “highly invasive MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells.” This means that CBDa could limit the detachment or movement of cancer cells from the primary tumor. Left unaddressed, detached cancer cells can lead to new tumors elsewhere in the body.
Non-psychoactive cannabis plants and products, such as those containing CBDa, were made legal on the federal level by the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act. Be sure to cross check the federal position with your state’s laws, however, as some states have attached conditions to the legality of non-intoxicating cannabis products.
CBDa is not currently regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — in fact, in February 2023, the agency outright refused to provide regulatory guidance on the more popular CBD, leaving consumers to sort out best practices for using CBD and CBDa on their own.
Due to the lack of standardized regulations governing CBDa in the market, the cannabinoid’s legal status can vary from state to state. This means the quality and purity of CBDa products on the market can vary, and it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using CBDa or any other cannabis product as part of a wellness routine.
If you want to try high-quality CBDa products, just shop for CBDa using Jointly Matches. When you buy a cannabis or CBDa product through Jointly Matches, you can rest assured that it comes from a pre-vetted company. Not only can you see the COA for your CBDa products, but you can also see how other Jointly users rated products for goals like managing aches and pains and improving sleep.
Basically, Jointly matches you with the best performing products for your goals, calculated from the product ratings of real users. Best of all, the products are shipped discreetly and legally to your front door.
Jointly is the cannabis discovery app that makes it easy to find and shop the best cannabis and CBD products for your goals. Your matches are calculated from the real product ratings and experiences from hundreds of thousands of people using the Jointly app.
If you're ready to discover new products and reach your goals, download the Jointly app today on the App Store or Google Play, or shop your matches on the Jointly website.
Whether you want to improve sleep, relieve daily stress, or just relax and refresh, Jointly can help you reach your goals with cannabis.
With Jointly, you can shop your top-rated products, and save lists of your favorites to share and bring to your local dispensary to help guide your shopping experience.